Tough Manly win perfect preparation for Warringah ahead of decider

Warringah Rats assistant coach Damien Cummins believes Saturday’s tough 27-17 preliminary final win over Manly was the perfect preparation for this weekend’s decider.

In front of a packed house at Rat Park, Warringah upstaged the minor premiers to book a clash against reigning premiers Norths at North Sydney Oval on Saturday afternoon.

“It was a good game to have, it was a good solid hit out played in front of a pretty decent crowd and it was good quality right across the park,” Cummins said.

“I don’t think you’d want to go into a grand final on the back of soft games and fortunately we came out of the weekend without any injuries.

“If we can play to our potential, we’re going to give ourselves a good chance to win.”

While Cummins admitted it wasn’t a perfect performance, the former Manly mentor said winning was all that mattered at this point of the season and highlighted the breakdown as the key area this weekend.

“I was really pleased with our lineout, that’s something we’ve been working on a lot all year and it’s really come together in the last few weeks,” he said.

“Our scrum was a little hit or miss. Obviously Manly have a very strong scrum and they’ve been putting teams under pressure all year so we knew we needed to match them there. We got a few penalties and a penalty try so that was pleasing because they did that to us a few weeks ago in the last derby.

“We were a bit off at the breakdown though and that’s something we need to improve this week. Will Miller is great and the ball, (Gary) Bautz is a handy player and obviously they’ve got Wellsy (Michael Wells), so that will be important.”

While Warringah have lost just two matches since early May, Norths have won five of their last six games and produced arguably their two best performances of the season in recent weeks, scoring more than 40 points on both occasions.

“I think we’ve both got a bit of momentum at the moment. They had a bit of a slump when they were missing a few key guys but they’ve been really good in the last few weeks and they know how to play finals footy,” Cummins added.

“Any side that wins 20 odd straight matches is a dangerous footy side, but I think we’ve got enough experience to combat that.”

Cummins coached Manly in a 15-12 loss to Eastwood in the 2015 Shute Shield decider, before moving to Warringah earlier this season and said he learnt a few important lessons from that experience.

“The biggest thing is to not change anything. There is no point trying to do too much this week or change anything, all the work has been done, so we’ll just stick to our routine this week and keep everything as normal as possible,” he said.

“It’s been 10 months of really hard work and I think there was probably a bit of a sense of relief in the sheds after the game on Saturday. We’ll make sure we prepare well and get everything crisp and try and enjoy the week as much as possible.”

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